Conservation easements

A picture named saguachecreek.jpg

Here’s an update on the state’s efforts to plug the leaky conservation easement program, from the Associated Press (Steven K. Paulson) via the Aurora Sentinel. From the article:

Erin Toll, director of Colorado’s Division of Real Estate, told lawmakers Wednesday the program is the target of a grand jury investigation that involves millions of dollars in questionable tax breaks. State lawmakers want to suspend the program and use the money to restore a property tax break for seniors, but Toll warned that could jeopardize hundreds of landowners who have taken advantage of tax credits who were told the easements would continue forever. She said tax benefits continue for up to 20 years, and some property owners have already sold those tax credits. “There’s a rollover for people who took that credit,” she told legislators. Toll said a grand jury is looking into $24 million that may have been fraudulently claimed with the help of unscrupulous appraisers who overvalued the land. Toll said three appraisers have been suspended and two of them are believed to be in Mexico. “We discovered millions of dollars in suspect credits,” Toll told legislators…

Toll said state regulators were hamstrung because of state laws that kept tax records private. She said new laws passed over the past two years will help investigators unravel what happened. Lawmakers were outraged when they were told they may not be able to cancel the program because of contracts that have already been signed to sell the easements.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Leave a Reply